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There have been several bands by this name over the decades – these Hitmen hail from Seattle in the late 80s. Originally released in 1989, Smashface mixes an eclectic batch of influences into an infectious set of songs that will alternatively have you shaking your head and singing along. Guitarist/songwriter Joe Leonard is the driving force here – his bottomless bag of guitar tones and techniques alludes to everybody from Andy Gill and Will Sergeant to Jimmy Nolan and Eddie Van Halen, sometimes all at once, and his colorful synth excursions further fill out the bands varied sound. Singer/songwriter Mark Palmer manages to keep up with solid rhythm guitar chops and an endearingly nerdy voice that sits comfortably amid the melodic chaos. Echoes of power pop (“Medicine Hat,” “Perfect Pain,” “Ice Age”), soulful balladry (“This Must Be the Place”), funk (“Cold War”), saloon crooning (“My Love Ran Out”) and, er, heavy metal/ska/psych/pop (“Thrasher’s Corner”) keep the record eclectic, but the band’s consistent writing and appealing personality tie everything together with common threads. Producer/label head Tom Dyer‘s notes mention that the Hitmen had no live following to speak of, and thus Smashface sold diddly. On the evidence of this ridiculously accomplished and fun record, that’s nearly impossible to believe. Spin Smashface and become the first member of the new cult of the Hitmen.
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